Tests carried out on a painting created whilst under the supervision of Leonardo da Vinci has revealed an interesting mixture of ingredients that led one researcher to say it was like finding the ‘recipe for Coca-Cola.’

Donna Nuda was examined by a team of researchers who discovered smells hidden by the surface of the 400-year-old painting, noting that the scent discovered was like the ‘fresh smell of a forest after rain.’

The unnamed artist was reportedly a student of da Vinci and whilst it is believed that he did not actively partake in the painting, he was supporting the artist so it could be said was active when it came to the secret ingredients chosen for the painting.  The items used were identified as a mixture of linseed oil, rosemary oil and egg yolk. A layer of conifer resin was also detected upon the investigation.

Project leader Gleb Zilberstein said that the formula detected could be used against other paintings to determine their authenticity and age.

The process used by Zilberstein and his team was a non-invasive procedure which uses acetate film embedded with charged particles, which they placed onto sections of the painting. Once applied the particles are analysed using liquid and gas mass spectrometry and chromatography which detects organic molecules.

The same team previously used the same process and technology to successful determine that Anton Chekhov had died of tuberculosis thanks to a blood spot found on the shirt he had worn when he died.

Looking at five different sections of the painting, the team were able to find traces of linseed oil and egg yolk in three sections with one section containing rosemary oil.

“For the first time the deciphering of the recipes used by Leonardo was possible. Insights on the artistic technique employed by the Renaissance master were revealed.”

They also stated that the use of rosemary oil gave artists the freedom to “enhance the sense of depth” of the landscape they were creating as well as adding a blurred effect.

There could be testing on further da Vinci works, however this would be with the agreement of the owners of his works and yet there has been no further testing.

We will wait and see what the future holds on this one!

Leave a Reply